Waldo Elf lay on his tummy on a soft patch of moss with his chin in his hands, The sun made moving shadows through the branches of a blackberry bush. Waldo saw a butterfly sitting on a violet and an inch worm measuring a twig nearby; a nice peaceful morning on a nice, peaceful day.
“Humph!” thought Waldo, “That’s what’s wrong with this day! An elf is supposed to cause mischief and I can see nothing to work with!” He turned onto his back and looked up through the blackberry bush. A long line of ants were busily harvesting a fat, juicy blackberry. Each ant would tear off one of the little black balls that made up the blackberry fruit, and pass it along to the next ant in line. It was passed on and on until the one on the ground broke line and began the long march back to the anthill.
There were already several ant workers headed back home with parts of the blackberry.
“Hmmm,” thought Waldo, “here might be a spot for some mischief!” He watched awhile, and then walked over to the base of the blackberry bush. He was hard to see with his brown and green suit and he could watch the work crew without being seen. He went to work.
First, he rolled a rather large twig along the ground until it pushed an ant out of the way and blocked their path. He sat down to watch the fun. His smile turned to a frown when he saw the ants walk around the far end of the twig and keep right on going.
“Well! That didn’t work so well! What now?” And he scratched his head. “Ah, I know!” And he picked up a large leaf, held it in front on him, and moved close to the line of busy ants. He sat down behind it where he couldn’t be seen and began talking in a low, ghostly voice.
“Little ants, there is a big storm coming and it will blow away the berry bush! Better run home!” Over and over he repeated the warning until the ants began to believe the voice. Soon, the bush was empty of ants and there was a long line hurrying away toward the anthill, carrying as many pieces of blackberry as they could.
Waldo followed the ants to the anthill and saw them disappear one by one into the ground. He looked into the hole in the anthill, but everyone was safe underground and not one ant was around to play jokes on. Waldo didn’t see the ant who was hiding just beyond the anthill as he shrugged and lay back down on the soft moss to take a nap.
The ant who had been watching ran back into the anthill and told his family what had been happening. “This elf needs a lesson!” said Andy Ant. And they began to make plans for a lesson to instruct Waldo on good manners.
Soon there was a line of ants marching up and into the blackberry bush. They found three of the juiciest over-ripe berries and very carefully began to cut away the stems until the three were ready to fall. Right over Waldo Elf’s face hung the mushy berries. Two ants each stood beside each berry and when Andy Ant gave the signal, they began cutting away the rest of the stems.
Plop! Right on Waldo’s nose dropped the first berry and the other two dropped on his neck and into his ear! Waldo’s head was covered in sticky blackberry juice! Even his eyes were stuck shut! Waving his arms to ward off attackers, Waldo jumped up and wiped the berry juice from his eyes. Licking it wasn’t even fun because it was over-ripe and soured.
With his eyes open at last, Waldo looked around. He saw the ants rolling on the berry leaves, laughing and pointing at him. “Remember this next time you want to ruin our workday!” shouted Andy Ant in his loudest voice. “An elf doesn’t always have to make mischief! Sometimes they can be nice!”
Waldo thought for a minute. “You’re right,” he said, “next time I will think before I make mischief.” And from that time on, Waldo Elf and the ants were friends.
c.2012, Donna Swanson